Arctic war veteran Jack was a local hero

A Skelmersdale veteran of the Arctic convoys in the Second World War who survived 12 days in a lifeboat has died at local Birch Green Care home.


Jack Hall served with the Royal Artillery as a gunner on the merchant ships that carried food and military equipment across treacherous seas to support the eastern front over four years from 1941.


At one stage, his ship was torpedoed north of Canada and he had to survive 12 days in a lifeboat in perilous seas before being rescued.


For his services during the war, Jack was awarded the Medal of Ushakov by the Russians. The then Mayor of West Lancashire, Councillor Doreen Stephenson presented him with the award at a special ceremony organised by West Lancashire Borough Council in 2015. Jack was also the holder of the Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem medals for his services.


Jack’s son Norman, who had collected the Medal of Ushakov from the Russian Embassy in London, said: “My dad had quite an illustrious past and didn’t think twice about what he did during the war. The Ambassador said if it was not for the likes of my dad, the Russians would be speaking German. He had nothing but praise for the staff at Birch Green while he was there and we can’t thank them enough.”


Phillippa McGrath, general manager of Birch Green Care Home, said: “Jack became a well known character in the home and we all enjoyed his company. He was a lovely gentleman and will be missed by all.”


Jack, 95, became a well-known figure in the Skelmersdale area – where he lived for 25 years - whilst he was blind and partially deaf, he would often be seen walking around the area with his guide dogs.


Jack is survived by his wife of 71 years, 92-year-old Marie and the couple had five sons and five daughters. He also leaves 16 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.


The veteran spent 14 years in the Royal Artillery, and in later life was also a long-distance lorry driver for Walter W. Cullen in Kirkby, near Liverpool. In recent years, Jack had been involved with Skelmersdale Ex-Services Association.


A funeral service will be held at St Richard’s RC Church in Liverpool Road, Skelmersdale, where family friends will pay their respects.


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